The Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Kimberly Hill have launched efforts to address educational equity in Charles County Public Schools (CCPS). Efforts include the adoption of a Board policy on educational equity, the launch of an Equity Task Force and a Superintendent Task Force on African American Employee Experiences, targeted bias training for all staff and the recent creation of a National Response Committee.
The mission of CCPS is to provide an opportunity for all school-aged children to receive an academically challenging, quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares for life, in an environment that is safe and conducive to learning. The school system’s initiatives, which started in 2019, are providing equal opportunities for and promoting equity among both students and staff.
Board Policy 1820: Educational Equity
The Board adopted Policy 1820: Educational Equity in October. The policy focuses on the principles of inclusion and fairness for student access to essential academic, social, emotional and economic resources and supports. The policy includes three priority focal areas for educational equity:
- Recognizing and removing institutional barriers;
- Ensuring social identifiers are not obstacles for students, such as age, ethnicity, family structure, race, religion, etc.
- Guaranteeing that bias and students’ identities will not predict or predetermine a child’s success in school.
The policy highlights the Board’s commitment to cultural responsiveness, which values racial/ethnic cultures, views and experiences, and incorporates them into teaching and learning. Additionally, Policy 1820 charges the Equity Task Force to advise the Superintendent on education equity issues within the school system. The Board’s equity policy is posted online here.
Equity Task Force
In March 2019, Dr. Hill and the Board launched the Equity Task Force. A priority for the Equity Task Force was to create an equity policy. Kimberly Hairston, CCPS director of equity and diversity, leads the task force of 35 members that includes CCPS staff, Board members, educators and parents. The Task Force meets monthly and created the equity policy presented to the Board in 2020.
The Equity Task Force is also responsible for developing training specifically to address educational equity. Earlier this school year, Board members, the Superintendent’s executive and operations staff, and principals completed a 16-hour, 8-week training on implicit bias. The task force plans to implement the training systemwide to all CCPS teachers and staff later this school year.
Superintendent Task Force on African American Employee Experiences
In October 2020, Dr. Hill created a task force for CCPS leaders to learn about the experiences of school system employees, specifically African American staff. The task force meets regularly and discusses topics such as employee morale, equity and support in the workplace, and focal areas where CCPS as an employer can improve when it comes to equity.
The task force also develops strategies for the recruitment and retention of diverse employees. The task force plans to partner with community groups to share information about the value of a career with CCPS.
Creation of Diversity and Inclusion Specialist Position
CCPS has created a position within its human resources department to target diversity and inclusion, and minority recruitment and retention. The position was created at the recommendation of the Task Force on African American Employee Experiences. The Diversity and Inclusion Specialist position will soon be available for interested applicants on the careers page on the CCPS website at https://www.ccboe.com/index.php/current-openings.
National Response Committee
In March 2021, CCPS launched a National Response Committee. The committee includes a group of diverse staff charged with developing solutions on how to help CCPS teachers, staff, students and parents handle sensitive matters such as racial and social injustices. The committee is actively working on a process for CCPS to address local, state and national events that affect the Charles County community. An equity and cultural responsiveness area on the school system website will include information about CCPS’ commitment to equity. The website will feature resources community members can use in having conversations with others about sensitive topics. A goal of the committee is to ensure that all CCPS stakeholder groups – staff, teachers, administrators, students, parents and community partners – feel supported by the school system. The website is in development and the committee will review prior to publication.